Who We Are
Dr. Halvor and Mirja Ronning are long time residents of Israel who are well known in Christian and academic circles in Jerusalem. They have resided in Jerusalem for 40 years and have four children and eleven grandchildren.
Halvor, a US citizen, has a B.A. from St. Olaf College, a B.D. from Luther Seminary, a M.A. from Yale University, and holds an honorary Doctorate degree (D.D. h.c.). He also participated in a special study program in the Synoptic Gospels at the Hebrew University. He lectures on the history and geography of the Land of the Bible and utilizes these skills as a licensed guide in Israel. Halvor is also a scholar in the Hebraic background of the Gospels and is an active member of the Jerusalem School of the Synoptic Gospels.
Mirja (Miriam), a Finnish citizen by birth, became a resident of Israel in 1949 and was educated in Hebrew since childhood. Mirja has a BA from Concordia College, USA and graduate degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Scientific Translation, in Clinical Psychology, and, most recently, in The Bible and Its World. Mirja also conducts an ongoing Bible translation project from Hebrew to Finnish and has published Genesis, Joel, Obadiah, and Ruth and recently completed Isaiah. She has taught Biblical Hebrew and Bible translation in academic settings in Jerusalem for many years.
Brian (Baruch) Kvasnica joined HBT in the summer of 2005 to assist in academic matters. Brian has a B.A. from Houghton College (NY), a M.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As a youth he spent two years in the Philippines and graduated from high school in Papua New Guinea where his parents were Wycliffe personnel.
He and his wife, Shoshanna (an Israeli nurse), have five children: Boaz, Dror, Liyah, Yohanan, and Nehalel. He loves the bring alive the Bible, through teaching and guiding. During the summer he often teaches Biblical Hebrew at the Biblical Language Center. He has lead dozens of Biblical study-tour groups throughout Israel, Jordan, Greece, and Turkey.
Our primary mission is to train national translators in the language and the Land of the Bible so that they are better equipped to produce more accurate and natural translations. We provide a “home away from home” in Jerusalem—thus, the “Home for Bible Translators.”
Of the 6,912 languages in the world, only 438 have a complete translation of the Old Testament. The vast majority of the people groups in the world cannot gain the comfort of Psalms nor the wisdom of Proverbs in their own native language. (Statistics from United Bible Societies, December 2007)
Translators increase their understanding the text in its context as they study Biblical Hebrew while experiencing first-hand the features of the Land—its landscape, climate, plants, and animals, as well as its archeology and culture of biblical times (including even household objects mentioned in the Bible). Translators internalize and increase retention of Hebrew vocabulary through experiencing it as a living language while studying at the Hebrew University, walking on the streets of Jerusalem, and traveling throughout Israel.
Ministry to National Translators and Consultants
HBT primarily serves qualified national translators and consultants. Better trained national translators improve the efficiency, stability, and accuracy of translation projects:
- Efficiency is increased since mother tongue translators need only learn one language–Hebrew.
- Stability is improved because mother tongue translators can work on their project while living in their home countries.
- Accuracy is enhanced when the translation is done as much as possible from the Hebrew source text and context directly into their language.
Mother tongue translators (MTT’s) have a burden to bring God’s Word to their people in their native language. Many have sacrificed better paying jobs and limited resources to work full-time in their local Bible translation projects. Through good-will offerings of supporters, HBT is able to subsidize accommodations in Jerusalem and provide need-based scholarships to national translators to study in Jerusalem. (Contributions in US dollars are tax-deductible and may be sent to Home for Bible Translators, c/o Mary Gemmel, 1450 Webster Ln, Des Plaines, IL 60018, USA.)
The HBT “Home” is a residential facility situated in a suburb of Jerusalem. It offers a quiet setting for study in an international community of serious students and scholars. The Home has a small resource library, internet, computer workstations, and Hebrew study software. It also provides training in translation and resource software along with Hebrew language tutorials tailored to the student.
In addition to translators and consultants, HBT also serves Bible scholars who seek greater understanding of the Old Testament text through study projects in the Land of the Bible. By special arrangement, directed study of the Jewish roots of the New Testament can also be organized as needed.
The present Home holds up to 10 students in four bedrooms, each with a private bathroom. Expansion to accommodate more students is in progress.
Volunteer staff provides daily meals, bedding, linen, and transportation service so students can devote themselves full-time to their studies.
Read here the amazing story of how the HBT was established.
We are grateful for your interest in Bible translation and extend a warm invitation to you on your next trip to Israel. Witness firsthand the work that is being accomplished at HBT to spread God’s Word. Please email us or call us using the information provided on the Contact Us page.